As Nigerian kids joined their counterparts across the world to mark Children’s Day yesterday, the Federal Government advised them to stay away from drug-related habits and face their studies more seriously for a better future for the country.
The advice was apparently informed by the growing cases of juvenile delinquencies across the country.At the celebration in Abuja, President Muhammadu Buhari pleaded: ‘’I call on you my dear children, to stay away from using abusive and addictive substances and concentrate on your studies as this administration will ensure a conducive learning environment for you to develop your potential.’’
The 27th May of every year has been set aside by the United Nations to celebrate children worldwide. This year’s theme is ‘’Drug abuse among children- Addressing the challenges.’’President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] Malam Muhammed Musa Bello, said this year’s celebration provided an opportunity to reiterate the administration’s commitment to the promotion of the rights of the Nigerian child and also to reflect on government’s role in the elimination of drug abuse.
The president said that his administration was also in the process of reviewing the National Drug Control Master Plan 2015—2019 with a focus on drug control and consumption.‘’It is worthy of mention that the presidential advisory committee is currently interfacing with core stakeholders, drug experts, rehabilitated drug users at all levels so as to make appropriate recommendations to government on interventions required to reverse this ugly trend.
‘’In addition to implementing the plan and addressing the national drug problem, government in May, 2018 placed restriction on the use, importation and the sale of codeine as a cough syrup without prescription.
“In furtherance of the campaign against drugs, the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control [NAFDAC] have also developed information, education and communication materials for awareness creation nationwide,” Buhari said.He urged Ministries, Departments and Agencies [MDAs] civil society organisations, traditional rulers, teachers, and most importantly, parents and adolescents themselves to work together in commitment to addressing the challenges of drug abuse so as to avert the consequences of this social menace and secure a better future for the nation’s children.
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Aisha Abubakar, said that to ensure the Nigerian child realise his or her potential, the ministry, in the last one year, had embarked on key transformation policies, projects and programmes to give effect to the provisions of the Child Rights Act, promote the rights of the child and improve on their general well being.
‘’The ministry is, among other things, implementing the provisions of the Child Rights Act of 2003 and ensuring the girls are kept in school to complete primary and secondary education.’’
In an interview, one of the children who participated in the celebration, Godwin Olapade, told The Guardian that the ceremony was one of the best in recent times.‘’I am from the Government Secondary School, Zuba, an SS 2 student. We are satisfied with the organisers, but we are appealing to government to make it more participatory next year,’’ he said.At a symposium to mark the Children’s Day, the Lagos State government said it recorded over 2000 cases of child abuse in the past two years.
The Director General, Quality Assurance, in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Ronke Soyombo, who disclosed this at the event organised by Strap and Safe Child Foundation, said 48 per cent of the cases were on sexual abuse. Soyombo also blamed pressure by parents and teachers for the increasing rate of suicide among students in the state, calling on Nigerians to avoid the blame culture and always see what is good, and not what is bad, about their children,
She said efforts had been made to create care and safety units across the 18000 schools in the state. According to her, the effort was empowered through an executive order in 2016, which mandates that schools give children opportunity to air their feelings.
Describing the event themed “Emotional safety: The new frontier” as laudable, she stressed the need for parents and teachers to teach children how to handle failures.The Chief Executive Officer of Corona Schools, Mrs. Adeyoyin Adeshina, said most of the emotional problems suffered by children were caused by competition and too much expectation by parents.The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Strap and Safe Child Foundation, Mrs. Bolanle Edwards said the symposium was meant to draw attention to the issue of emotional safety of children.